Celebrating National and Local YMCA Leaders
By Charlie Davis, President and CEO of YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties
When I first joined our Y in 1983, the majority of employees in our Y – and across the nation – were men, who comprised nearly 80% of the total workforce. Today, women make up nearly 65% of the Y workforce, including at the highest levels of the YMCA of the USA. Though our association has not had a woman CEO to date, that day is coming as evidenced by the ever-increasing role women are playing in the leadership of our Y. When you look across our association, there are more women in executive leadership roles than ever before. Throughout the past two years, our Y has faced fierce adversity, and there is no doubt the women of our Y have played a critical role in helping us stay the course and advance. In recognition of Women’s History Month, I want to recognize the women executive leaders of our Y, who have played critical roles in driving us forward. While many women are vital to the work of our Y, the following are currently in executive leadership roles:
Suzanne McCormick | President and CEO of YMCA of the USA
In July 2021, the YMCA of the USA selected Suzanne McCormick to be its new President and CEO. The process was extensive, recognizing the need for a unique leader to navigate the challenging circumstances the Y was facing, and Suzanne rose to the top of a long list of qualified candidates. Ys across the country had been decimated by the pandemic, as had our Y, and the Movement required someone with a vast set of skills to take the helm and steer the ship. Suzanne was a great choice, given her impressive resume, particularly as a communicator. In the short time she has been in her new role, Suzanne has demonstrated the leadership that the Y has needed, instilling hope and energy into the entire Movement. It is also important to recognize that Suzanne is the first woman in the history of the YMCA to hold this position.
Toko Thompson | Vice President and Chief Finance Officer
Toko joined our Y in 2019 after an extensive career in the for-profit world. She joined our Y with the specific intention of working for a mission-driven organization, dedicated to making a contribution to the community. Toko’s expertise, dedication, and commitment have been a lifeline for this organization. I cannot imagine where we would be without her leadership.
Michelle Rose | Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
As was the case with Toko, Michelle was not looking for a new job, rather she was looking to be part of an organization that makes a difference in her community. Michelle has brought expertise and commitment that is critical to helping us manage the extreme circumstances we face.
Tara Bywater | Operations Director
Tara has been a part of our Y for more than 10 years, holding a number of different roles. In every situation, Tara has had an instant impact, a testament to her leadership and commitment. Tara leads our membership efforts and works with the executive directors at the Gordon Y, the Mel Korum Y, the Tacoma Center Y, and the University Y Student Center. Tara is a vital part of our Y, bringing a high level of energy and passion to elevate our performance.
Stephanie Roberts | Operations Director
Stephanie, too, has had a number of different roles in our organization, which enables her to adapt to the complexities we face today. Currently, Stephanie is providing leadership to our school outreach effort, working with the executive directors in Child Care and the Center for Community Impact. During the pandemic, our Y expanded the services we offer to the schools we serve, which has been a great opportunity for our Y.
Megan Sala | Executive Director, Tom Taylor Family YMCA
Megan entered our Y as a membership director and quickly ascended to be an executive leader. Her energy, passion, and dedication distinguish her as a leader, and she is thriving in her relatively new role as an executive director in the Gig Harbor community.
Jenna Lehman | Executive Director, Gordon Family YMCA
Jenna has been a part of our Y for more than ten years, rising up through our aquatics department. Jenna quickly established herself as a leader for our Y and helped to open the Gordon community center in 2015. Recently, she was elevated to executive director and has proven to be an effective leader for her team and the Sumner community.
Emily Morisawa | Executive Director, Haselwood Family YMCA
Emily joined our association about a year ago, coming from the Greater Seattle YMCA. Emily had an immediate impact as a contributor and a leader. She has been a strong contributor to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work, and within the past month was elevated to executive director in our Silverdale community. Like the other executive directors, Emily is a passionate leader and extremely dedicated to her work.
These leaders, as well as so many other women within our Y, have helped to make our organization great for our community. Thank you for your dedication and commitment; you make a big difference to so many people.